Islands Chain in Rebranding Push

LOS ANGELES Islands is launching its first major branding effort in the restaurant chain’s 25-year history, said Cyndi Darlington, director of marketing.
The $5 million effort using radio, billboard, bus shelters and bus panels breaks today from independent agency Voyage, Santa Monica, Calif., said Nat Mundel, president and creative director.
The agency won the business following a review with undisclosed contenders last December in collaboration with New York agency, Splick13. Splick13 will continue to work on the brand through Voyage, which assumed lead agency duties. It is the first lead agency situation for Voyage.
The new work for the Carlsbad, Calif.-based restaurant chain, which operates in mostly California, but also in Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii and Nevada, introduces the tagline “Mainlanders welcome.” Out-of-home work features various sandwiches against exotic flora with copy such as “Mainlander drops guac on his tie. Licks tie in front of co-worker. Some register disgust, others admiration,” with an “Islands fine burgers and drinks” logo and the tag.
Previously, Darlington said, Islands had done some local cable, occasional radio and traffic sponsorships using freelance talent. “There was no synergistic communications,” she said. “Our reason for the campaign now has less to do with market conditions than our brand evolution, though it works to our advantage in a down market to show that we are taking our investments in Islands into the future.”
The “Mainlanders welcome” campaign repositions Islands’ idea of escape from the movie set-like Polynesian atmosphere to “an escape in the mind,” Mundel said. “It’s less about the toucan birds than great fresh food, warm service and friendly atmosphere. We’re getting back to basics, which is that Islands is extraordinary in the category.”